Auckland Council’s planning committee opted on Tuesday for the slower course of accepting a plan change for a potential 1200 houses at Warkworth rather than adopting it. Under the second option, the council would have picked up the plan change and guided it through its regulatory processes.
The difference is a matter of timing. In this case, the slower process means the developer, Turnstone Capital LP (Mark Francis, chief executive of NZX-listed Augusta Capital Ltd), may miss the next earthworks season, pushing housing availability back a year.
The committee also went into a long round of debate on issues not really relevant to this decision, which I may return to later.
Image above: Warkworth’s future urban zone is in yellow, the Warkworth North structure plan area is outlined or coloured in purple, and the Turnstone plan change area is hached.
The cause of council planners’ concern, reflected in the committee debate, was that the council has its own Warkworth North structure plan also going through the hoops, and the planners want that in place first, rather than find differences requiring a variation. The difference in timing is only a matter of months, but in terms of conditions for starting construction could end up being a year.
Council plans & places general manager John Duguid said structure planning was nearing a conclusion for 4 areas around Warkworth, including the north: “We are close to a timeframe for consultation in the next couple of weeks, back to the committee as a final structure plan in May or June for the whole of Warkworth.
“To release all of that land at the same time would be at a significant cost. The decision was made to release the land in the north first, east & south later, in the second & third decades.”
The entire Warkworth future urban area covers about 1000ha, mostly in rural uses, which will be rezoned to residential & business zones.
The estimate is that Turnstone’s 99ha up for rezoning (out of a total 125ha site) could take 1000-1200 new dwellings, 13ha of light industry & a new 3000m² neighbourhood centre.
It’s just over 2 years since the Auckland unitary plan was made partly operative. Since that event in October 2016, the council has been progressively making more of it operative, as appeals are resolved. The unitary plan covers the whole region, covering the area which until 2010 contained 4 cities & 3 districts, each with its own district plan. In addition, the regional council had a regional policy statement, which is also now incorporated in the unitary plan.
Now that most of the unitary plan is in place, developers can be more certain about what’s allowed, and Mr Duguid said a stream of private plan changes enabling development was expected.
Planning committee agenda, 5 February
9, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – Privateplan change request from Turnstone Capital LP – Warkworth North
Attachment A – Request part 1 S32 report & appendix 1 planning maps & precinct provisions (78 pages)
Attachment B – Request part 2 appendices 2 – 22 (1239 pages)
FULSS – Future urban area sequencing Warkworth
Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.